Those who know me know I am an all-natural mom. I used no drugs during childbirth, I vaccinated my kids on a modified schedule, I research all prescribed medications before giving it to them, and I avoid unnecessary medications at all costs. They don't even get Children's Tylenol unless they are seriously ill.
But I noticed recently that my daughter Sally, who is 8 years old, just didn't seem as healthy as she should be. She has struggled with constipation since she was born, and she gets these weird acne-like bumps on her face. She's on a Flovent inhaler daily for asthma, and I ask myself every day whether this is truly necessary. Inhaled steroids are certainly safer than oral steroids, but they can still suppress the immune system. I often wonder how the Flovent affects the rest of her body's systems.
The doctors aren't concerned at all and simply offer symptom relief in the form of more medication. But to me, treating the individual symptoms is not the way to cure a whole-body health problem. If her "core" problem is chronic constipation, doesn't it stand to reason that there are toxins building up in her system that could cause immune reactions such as asthma and acne? I'm not a doctor, but isn't this kind of obvious?
Do I decided to try some natural approaches to boosting her immunity and helping her digestion. She has been taking fiber gummies for about a year now, and it has helped her constipation tremendously. I decided to add daily chewable acidophilus to give her more "healthy" bacteria in her digestive tract.
I also decided to add some omega-3 to her diet. I started taking flaxseed oil supplements a couple of months ago, and I have seen a tremendous improvement in my skin and hair. Omega-3 is good for brain development anyway, so I thought it would be good for her skin as well.
Sally has been on these supplements for about a month now, and her skin has cleared up completely and she has been going to the bathroom regularly. My only question now is her asthma. I made the mistake of stopping her inhaler just after we started the supplements, but it was too soon. She immediately caught a cold and started coughing again. I would like to try again in a few months. Imagine if she could be medication-free thanks to a few natural additions to her diet!
Here is her daily supplement regimen:
Multi-vitamin: Disney Multivitamin Gummies, Pixar Finding Nemo, 60 Gummies (Pack of 3)
I'm not too excited about this vitamin. I picked it because it was reasonably priced (about $6), it used real sugar and other natural ingredients instead of chemicals, and did not have "vitamin overload." My kids eat pretty healthy anyway - Sally loves salads and fruit - so they don't need a lot of extra vitamins.
Acidophilus: Nature's Way Primadophilus For Kids Orange, 30 chewable tablets
This chewable tablet provides 80 mg of probiotics and guarantees 3 billion CFU for entire shelf life. Experts say acidophilus should always be refrigerated. You can buy non-refrigerated acidophilus at Target and Wal-Mart, but I go the health food store for this because it makes sense that live bacteria should be refrigerated at all times. A 30-day bottle costs about $6.
Omega-3: Omega Nutrition Cold Milled Flax Seeds, 15-Ounces
I had a hard time deciding which omega-3 to give Sally. Flaxseed seemed healthier and less processed than fish oil, but fish oil has more of the beneficial omega-3 such as DHA and EPA. I bought a bag of milled flaxseed for $3.50, and I sprinkle it on her yogurt or mix it with peanut butter. It's got a nutty taste, and she seems to like it. One benefit of the whole flaxseed that I didn't know about was that it has a powerful laxative effect. Her constipation problems have been virtually eliminated! The downside of flax is that it's hard to regulate the frequency and amount of flax she's getting. Some days, I can't find anything to put the flax in. Other days, she just doesn't feel like eating it. Also, the shelf life of flax is very short, and it needs to be refrigerated. So I tried this:
Carlson For Kids Chewable DHA Orange, 120 Softgels
I did a great deal of research before deciding on a fish oil supplement. My main concern was mercury. None of these supplements is regulated my the FDA, so you have to just trust the labels, which can be misleading. You can get Lil Critters Omega-3 gummies at Target and Wal-Mart, but the label says nothing about how safe the fish oil is. Their Web site says they regularly test for mercury, but does that mean they actually take it out? I just didn't trust them.
Another issue is the amount of DHA in these fish oil supplements. You have to read the labels because some have as little as 40 mg of DHA. That's not much considering the bottles can cost up to $30!
So I chose Carlson's because their fish oil is guaranteed free of mercury and other contaminants using an FDA-regulated lab. It has 600 mg of fish oil, 100 mg of DHA, and 50 mg of EPA. And it's one of the cheaper supplements at just $11. The kids aren't crazy about the taste, but if they wash it down with orange juice it's not too bad.
Vitamin C: Nature's Plus Animal Parade Vitamin C-Orange, 250 mg, 90 chewable tablets
I don't make a big deal about vitamin C because the kids drink a lot of orange juice anyway. I usually give them a chewable tablet at breakfast. These tablets are all natural and taste really good. They provide 250 mg of vitamin C.
Fiber: Pedia-Lax Children's Fiber Gummies Daily Fiber Supplement, 60-Count Bottles (Pack of 3)
Whenever a mom tells me her child is constipated, I can't say enough about these gummies. Sally's constipation problems had gotten so bad, she was having accidents almost every day. She was in 2nd grade at the time, so it was getting pretty embarrassing for her. I had tried laxatives and behavior modification techniques, and nothing had worked. As a last-ditch effort I tried these fiber gummies and they worked great! She now "goes" regularly, and has not had an accident in quite a long time.
While supplements can certainly be overdone, I think a couple of well-researched additions to a child's diet can help their overall health in the long run. But please do your homework before handing your kids a handful of gummies because they can be dangerous if you don't know what you're doing!